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Dictionary of Vexillology: A (Armed - Arrow Cross)

Last modified: 2021-06-19 by rob raeside
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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1) In vexillology the term relating to a figure carrying weapons – but see ‘armoured’.
2) In heraldry a term used when the claws, teeth talons and sometimes the beak of a beast or bird of prey are shown in a different tincture to the body (see also ‘armed and langued’, ‘attired’, ‘beaked’, ‘langued’, ‘gorged’, ‘harnysed’, ‘jelloped’, ‘membered’ and ‘tincture’).

Spiringen, Switzerland Spiringen, Switzerland Pregrada, Croatia Flanders, Belgium Flanders, Belgium
Arms and Flag of Spiringen, Switzerland (Wikipedia & fotw); Arms of Pregrada, Croatia (fotw); Flag and Arms of Flanders, Belgium (fotw & Wikipedia)

In heraldry, see ‘armed 2)’, ‘langued’ and ‘membered’.

Balzers, Liechtenstein Balzers, Liechtenstein Valdice, Czech Rep. Košice, Slovakia Östergötland, Sweden
Flag and Arms of Balzers, Liechtenstein (fotw & Wikipedia); Flag of Valdice, Czechia (fotw); Arms of Košice, Slovakia (fotw); Flag of Östergötland, Sweden (fotw)

A generic term for any flag that pertains to, or represents a branch of the armed services, or a unit within that branch.

Armed Services, Croatia Armed Services, UK Armed Services, USA Armed Services, South Africa
Naval Jack, Croatia (fotw); Colour of the Royal Navy 1939-1952, UK (fotw); Flag of the Army, US (fotw); Air Force Ensign, South Africa (fotw)

Please note however, that the various types of flags used by the armed services – for example an appointment flag, branch of service flag, camp flag, colour, flag of command, guidon, naval jack, positional or rank flag, etc. – are separately defined herein and are, we suggest, to be preferred in description.

An alternative heraldic term to canting - ‘canting’.

Tři Studnĕ, Czech Rep. Tři Studnĕ, Czech Rep.
Flag and Arms of Tři Studnĕ (or Three Wells), Czechia (fotw & ICH)

See ‘badge 3)’ and ‘regimental colours 2)’ (also ‘military crest’).

arm flash 
Arm Flash/Patch of The Royal Armoured Corps, UK

(adj) The heraldic term for possessing or showing a coat of arms - see ‘coat of arms 2)’ (also 'armorial bearings' and 'blazon').

armigerous armigerous armigerous armigerous 
Coats of Arms of the 10th Duke of Richmond, the 11th Duke of Marlborough, the 10th Duke of Buccleuch, and the 7th Marquis of Bath, UK (Wikipedia)

See ‘service flag 3)’.

Armistice Day Flag/American War Mothers, US (fotw)

1) In heraldry see ‘banner of arms’.
2) A term that may also be used when the banner concerned contains all or some of the elements from a coat of arms, but where that flag and those arms differ in their layout, and/or in the detail/quantity of any such charges – but see ‘armorial flag 2)’ (also ‘coat of arms 2)’.

[Aleksandrów Kujawski] [Aleksandrów Kujawski]  [Černotín] [Černotín] [Černotín] [Bądkowo]
Armorial Banner and Arms of Aleksandrów Kujawski Rural District according to def 1), Poland (fotw); The Flag and Arms of Černotín, Czechia and of Bądkowo, Poland according to def 2) (fotw)

Please note that the extension of this term, as given in definition 2), has been introduced by the Editors as no established alternative could be found.

The heraldic term for all the armorial insignia to which an individual or family, a corporate institution such as a nation, province or municipality, or a commercial enterprise are entitled – an achievement of arms or complete (armorial) achievement or establishment of arms – but see note below for further details (also ‘greater arms’ and ‘state arms 2)’ under ‘arms’, ‘blazon’, ‘coat of arms 1’), ‘quarters’, ‘quartering’ and ‘quarterly’).

armorial bearings armorial bearings  armorial bearings armorial bearings
The Armorial Bearings of HM Queen Elizabeth II (for use in England, Wales and Northern Ireland), UK (Graham Bartram); Armorial Bearings of The Bahamas (fotw); Armorial Bearings of the Duke of Westminster, UK (Wikipedia); Armorial Bearings of Manchester City, UK (Wikipedia)

Please note, however, that (as is shown above) a full set of armorial bearings can include (for example) shield, supporters, helmet, torse, crest, collar, mantling, compartment, motto etc., and whilst many of the terms used are illustrated in Appendix IV and/or briefly defined herein, it is suggested that a suitable glossary or heraldic dictionary be consulted for full details.

1) The term that is used to describe a historical naval ensign which displays a full set of armorial bearings, usually (but not invariably) against a plain field (see also ‘armorial bearings’, ‘armorial flag 1)’, ‘armorial flag 2’ and ‘naval ensign’ under ‘ensign
2) A newly extended term that is intended to cover a British or British-style ensign (or a canton flag) whose fly is defaced with a set of armorial bearings or the escutcheon therefrom (see also ‘armorial bearings’, ‘blue ensign’, ‘canton flag’, ‘escutcheon’, ‘government ensign’ under ‘ensign’ and ‘red ensign’).

Spain ensign 1701 British Antarctic Territory Fiji Mauritius civil ensign
State and War Ensign, Spain 1701-1759 (fotw); Flag of British Antarctic Territories (fotw); National Flag of Fiji (fotw); State Ensign of Mauritius (fotw)

1) Generically, a term that covers any flag showing all or part of an entity’s armorial bearings against a field of any description (see also ‘armorial bearings’, ‘banner of arms’ and ‘coat of arms 2)’).
2) Specifically, a term that covers any flag whose main charge is a set of armorial bearings or a part thereof, and which is set against either livery colours or a plain field – but see ‘armorial banner 2)’, ‘ensign-banner’ (also ‘banner of arms’, ‘charge 2)’, ‘livery colours’ and ‘plain 2)’ and ‘seal flag’).

[New Jersey, US] [New Jersey, US] [Białogard Rural District] [Białogard Rural District] [Bibinje, Croatia] [Bibinje, Croatia] [Chodouny]  [Chodouny]
Flag and Arms of New Jersey, USA (fotw); Flag and Arms of Białogard Rural District, Poland (fotw); Flag and Arms of Bibinje, Croatia fotw); Flag and Arms of Chodouny, Czechia (fotw)

Please note that this term has been introduced by the Editors since no established alternative could be found.

A term for the largely (but not entirely) obsolete practice of having all or a part of a coat of arms displayed on a vessel’s sail (see also ‘armorial bearings’, ‘coat of arms’ and ‘flag sail’).

armorial sail
NCO Naval School, Colombia (fotw)

1) In vexillology a term that may be used when a human figure, or any part thereof, is clad in armour - but see ‘harnysed’ and ‘vambraced’.
2) In heraldry see ‘harnysed’ and ‘vambraced’. 

Isle of Man Dithmarschen, Germany Navy Jack - Poland Lithuania
Flag of the Isle of Man, UK (fotw); Arms of Dithmarschen, Germany (Wikipedia); Naval Jack of Poland (fotw); National Arms of Lithuania (fotw)

See ‘armorial bearings’, ‘coat of arms’ and ‘shield’ , together with ‘greater arms’, ‘lesser arms’, ‘middle arms’ and ‘state arms’ below (also ‘civic arms’ and ‘flag arms’).

Greater Arms
In largely northern European usage, an official description for the full set of armorial bearings of a nation or province – but see ‘middle arms’, ‘lesser arms’ and ‘state arms 2)’ (also ‘armorial bearings’, ‘coat of arms 1)’ and ‘coat of arms 2)’)

greater arms of Sweden greater arms of Hamburg
Greater Arms of Sweden and of Hamburg, Germany (fotw)

Lesser Arms
In largely northern European usage, the most simplified form in which the set of armorial bearings of a nation or province may be officially shown – but see ‘greater arms, ‘middle arms’ and ‘state arms 1)’ (also ‘armorial bearings’, ‘coat of arms 1)’ and ‘coat of arms 2)’)

lesser arms of Czech Rep. lesser arms of Hamburg
Lesser Arms of Czechia and Hamburg, Germany (fotw)

Middle Arms
In largely northern European usage, a simplified form in which the set of armorial bearings of a nation or province may be officially shown – but see ‘greater arms’, ‘lesser arms’ and ‘state arms 1)’ (also ‘armorial bearings’, ‘coat of arms 1)’ and ‘coat of arms 2)’)

lesser arms of Bremen greater arms of Hamburg
Middle Arms of Bremen and of Hamburg, Germany (fotw)

State Arms (or Coat of Arms)
1) Generically any coat of arms or emblem that is considered representative of a nation or of a nation state – the national arms (see also ‘lesser arms’ and ‘middle arms’, ‘coat of arms 1)’ and ‘coat of arms 2)’, ‘emblem, state or national’ and ‘sash 1)’).
2) Specifically the establishment of arms that officially represents a nation state, as opposed to any part (or parts) therefrom, or those of the relevant head of state or of any variation which may appear on a flag (see also ‘establishment of arms’, ‘flag arms’, ‘greater arms’, ‘imperial arms’, ‘presidential arms’ and ‘royal arms’).
3) The term may also be used to describe the arms of a sub-national division within a nation when any such division is called a “state” (see also ‘flag of the state of 2)’).

 Ecuador arms  NJ arms
State/National Arms of Ecuador (fotw); Arms of the State of New Jersey, US (fotw)

In British Army usage and some others, the term for an ensign (different from the branch of service flag) that is flown at sea by army vessels (see also ‘branch of service flag’ and ‘government ensign’ under ‘ensign’).

UK army ensign UK army ensign Malawi army ensign
Army Ensign, UK (fotw); Ensign (in abeyance) of an Army Vessel Commanded by a Commissioned Officer (fotw); Army Ensign, Malawi (fotw)

See ‘branch of service flag’ (also ‘armed services flag’).

Belgium army flag Kenya army flag India army flag Thai army flag
Army Flag, Belgium (fotw); Army Flag, Kenya (fotw); Army Flag, India (fotw); Army Flag Thailand (fotw)

See ‘registration flags’.

Arrondissement flag Arrondissement pennant
Arrondissement Flag and Pennant, Department of Lorient, France (fotw)

A reputedly early Medieval symbol in the form of four connected arrowheads, that became (1940 - 1945) the emblem of the Hungarian Nazi Party (the Nyilaskeresztes Párt) and occasionally used elsewhere – a cross barbed – see ‘swastika’ (also ‘rogacina’ and ‘sun cross’).

Arrow Cross flag Arrow Cross flag Arrow Cross flag
Flags of the Nyilaskeresztes Párt, Hungary 1940-1945; Former Flag of the Falange Venezolana, Venezuela (fotw)

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